Penguins at Moody Gardens will paint you a souvenir
12:00 AM CST on Sunday, March 8, 2009
By MARY ELLEN BOTTER Travel Editor
The squat artist in what appears to be a tuxedo is no Andy Warhol, but his colorful marks on canvas could deserve a place in a modern-art museum.
That is, if museums accept works by penguins. For certain, participants in the private penguin encounter at Moody Gardens in Galveston will take home original works created by the birds as their feet, swabbed with nontoxic paint, track across canvas-board rectangles.
The bird-made, modernistic works are souvenirs for each participant in the gardens' private program. Public sessions also are offered. One person in each public encounter is awarded a penguin artwork.
The popular encounters are in their first year at Moody Gardens.
The avian artists, among more than 100 penguins of several species in the South Atlantic Exhibit in the Aquarium Pyramid at the gardens, are chosen for their willingness to participate in the enrichment activity and mix with humans.
The 45-minute private and public sessions allow visitors to go behind the scenes in the chilly penguin exhibit, get close to the creatures, hear a biologist describe the birds' life, learn about penguin care and conservation and watch the birds create art.
Those who want an even closer encounter can book the Penguin and Seal Experience. The six-hour program on Saturdays allows participants activities such as feeding the birds and seals and helping biologists with their duties, cleanup among them.
Lunch, a photo and a piece of penguin art are included in the price.
Moody Gardens (www .moodygardens.com) is a nature-oriented nonprofit educational facility and three-pyramid landmark on the west side of Galveston Island. Among its attractions are a rainforest, aquarium and IMAX theater. When you go
• Penguin Encounter is available at 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and each day March 14-22. Price is $30 per person; free, 1 and younger. Moody Gardens admission ($25.95) is additional.
• Private Penguin Encounter can be scheduled at visitors' convenience, based on availability. Reservations are required. The price of $250 per group (up to four people) includes art for each person.
Contact: 1-800-582-4673, ext. 4102.
Penguins and seals
Penguin and Seal Experience is offered Saturdays. Cost is $175 per person (must be 16 or older). Contact: 1-800-582-4673, ext. 4211.
Image courtesy of Flickr
Story courtesy of Dallas News @